My taste in books is usually pretty different from what most people like. I tend to enjoy the ridiculous, and the dark humor, and the simple. But I also love the occasional epic adventure where the author actually has the skill to pull it off. I have found this to be pretty rare. Huge novels that span generations and continents are just massive in breadth, and I feel like that usually, even good authors get lost in their stories at times. Two notable exceptions are "Pillars of the Earth," by Ken Follett, and "The Power of One," by Bryce Courtney, although Courtney seemed to lose his way in the sequels.
In any case, despite pressure to read "Shantaram" by a person who's taste in books I trust, I put it off for a long while. I finally picked up the giant 900 page tome around New Years, and just finished it last night in a marathon session culminating in a 2am sprint.It. Is. Amazing. And it's based on the author's true story. Gregory David Roberts was a convicted felon, who escaped from a maximum security prison and flew to the urban jungle of Bombay, India (now Mumbai). With a little luck and a little faith, he finds himself a citizen of one of the huge Marathi slums of the city. With his previous medical training, he is able to open up a free clinic for the poorest of the city's inhabitants. He also becomes involved with the Bombay Mafia, and his adventures stretch from India to Pakistan to the battlefields of Afghanistan. Despite his activities as a criminal, Roberts is a very real person that you can sympathize with, and even like. This is one of the best stories that I have ever read about redemption, love, adventure, passion and forgiveness. It's one of the best books that I have ever read, period.